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Namrata Singh Gujral: Triumph through turmoil


by ASJAD NAZIR

COMEDY drama 5 Weddings is a film that almost didn’t get made despite having high-level support. Producer/director Namrata Singh Gujral was struck down by life threatening breast cancer, and years after recovering from that she was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of blood cancer.

After bravely battling back from the brink, she revisited her passion project of a comedy about an American reporter covering five weddings in India with an added interesting emotional layer about hijras.

“My investors didn’t share my sentiments on adding the hijra story line to the film. We needed to go back to the fluff piece we had without any interventions from my new thought process. I guaranteed them 5 Weddings would not lose its fun and light touch, but it could still address some social issues,” explained Namrata.

The investors thought it went away from the comedy genre and bailed. The woman who fought cancer twice used that fighting spirit to raise money for a film she believed in.

The filmmaker then assembled an interesting cast including Nargis Fakhri, Rajkummar Rao, Bo Derek and Candy Clark for the film. She also cast a real life hijra in a key role. She is full or praise for the cast, who came on board because of the subject.

“I reached out to Nargis Fakhri and Rajkummar Rao. Neither cared about the budget. Neither did Bo Derek, Candy Clark or any other cast and crew for that matter, which gives you renewed faith in humanity.”

When asked about her favourite moment in 5 Weddings, Namrata smiled and said: “Yes, the entire hijra story line is a huge favourite. But also how the film ends, which always chokes me up a little. And no, it’s not because Nargis and Raj live happily ever after.”

The trailer for 5 Weddings has received a positive response, and Namrata is happy it doesn’t subscribe to a particular genre. She is hoping the film entertains audiences, but also starts conversations that may affect change.

“If my journey has taught me one thing, it is the only thing that matters in the end is love. I hope that we will be kinder to others and love more adequately after watching 5 Weddings.

“It’s a very funny film which will keep you entertained throughout. But most importantly, the film is a good example of how entertainment value does not need to be compromised to tell important stories.”

Namrata cites Wes Anderson and any successful auteurs as film making heroes. She enjoys watching fun movies with a happy, positive vibe that makes audiences smile. For her next movie she has something different planned.

“My next film is a science fiction titled STILL. It is a film that deals with science vs. prayer. I am also in post-production on a film titled Finding Match that deals with cancer in the south Asian community and what matches are best for us as a race.”

  • 5 Weddings is in cinemas on September 21.